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19th Avenue North

The City of Clinton was platted in the late 19th century, and city founders and leaders at the time had the unbelievable foresight to carve out a city street system through existing timber, floodplains, creeks, bluffs, and hills. The original plat from 1892 is a remarkable piece of history, considering what little equipment engineers and surveyors had at their disposal at that time. Even more remarkable is the fact that the roads built at that time still exist today. Most of the materials are long gone, but the location of the streets are still the same, and for the most part, this system still works. But picturing the streets of mud that were commonplace in the late 19th and early 20th century is a difficult task.

By the 1910’s there still weren’t many good roads, and the city was still only connected to the rest of the region by mud ridden county and state owned paths. Finally, beginning in 1913, the Lincoln Highway (Highway 30) was built, and Clinton was lucky enough to be chosen as a connected community. The direct connection of Clinton to the largest highway in the country shaped Clinton’s path as a leading industrial community. We owe more to this decision that we realize, as it helped create a natural hub for industry, which in turn created the jobs our families relied upon through difficult times. By the 1920’s, most of the Lincoln Highway was paved with full depth concrete, which spurred a local surge for industrial growth. Concrete and brick were being used as a reliable building materials, but many of the roads still lacked proper engineering standards for drainage and sub-base.

Since the construction of the Lincoln Highway, two more highways (Highway 67 and Highway 136) were promptly extended to Clinton and connected to the mother road. Because of this, it was crucial for the Clinton to expand upon the original grid system, with consideration given to future growth of the com­munity as well as connectivity of the three existing highways. This lead to the construction of Bluff Boulevard, an extension of 2nd Avenue South, the paving and widening of 13th Avenue North, and more recently, the construction of Harts Mill Road and Mill Creek Parkway. These were all large endeavors that helped to shape our community. These streets created a backbone of transportation which still exists today, and that will always be necessary to ensure safe and efficient transportation as a priority for the City of Clinton.

During design and construction of Mill Creek Parkway in 2001, it became apparent to city leaders that future connectivity was necessary between the existing highway system and Mill Creek Parkway. There was a vast, undeveloped area between 13th Avenue North and Highway 136 that would benefit from thoughtful connectivity. The idea for 19th Avenue North was conceived, and design began in 2004. As opposed to urban sprawl with no proper transportation planning, 19th Avenue North would serve to connect many existing transportation facilities. Construction from Springdale Drive to Mill Creek Parkway began in 2009 as part of the federal stimulus program, and was extended to Main Avenue in 2015 with a state grant and business park prop­erty tax proceeds. The final phase of 19th Avenue North is nearing completion, and this will connect to Highway 67 at North 2nd Street and the Highway 136 Bridge to Illinois.

In total, 19th Avenue North includes approximate­ly 2.35 miles of new concrete street construction between Main Avenue and North 2nd Street at the foot of the Highway 136 Bridge. The new portion of roadway has been constructed through an unde­veloped portion of the City of Clinton located on the outskirts of the urbanized area. 19th Avenue North will provide alternative means of transportation to the entire region from northwest Illinois to eastern Iowa.

Further benefits of the 19th Avenue North Ex­tension include more efficient transportation options and potential economic growth in the area. It will also provide an alternative means of transportation through Clinton, which will lessen congestion on the existing street system along 13th Avenue North and North 2nd Street. It will provide a quicker and more fuel efficient route from Illinois and the Lyons area to the southwest Clinton commercial district. Hopefully, the construction of the 19th Avenue North Extension will also open up commercial and residential develop­ment growth in the area.

The city considered many options during the design of the roadway and eventually landed on a design that meets the needs of the existing area. The western section of the roadway includes a sep­arated median design that provides maximum safety for motorists, as compared to the simple two-lane construction. There will be median cuts and access points at locations properly spaced with safety in mind. All local roads constructed in this area in the future will have connections to 19th Avenue North, which will serve as the main transportation artery in the area. Vehicles will be naturally routed through the 19th Avenue North corridor as development occurs. This is a preferred alternative to the typical urban sprawl that tends to occur, which would only further burden the 13th Avenue North and North 11th Street area.

At the east end of the project, 19th Avenue North was constructed as a three-lane roadway with a center two-way left turn lane. This was done to provide a safe queuing lane for vehicles accessing existing intersections and residential driveways. A traffic signal was also constructed at North 3rd Street to enhance the safety of this intersection. The road­way is constructed of 8” thick concrete paving with a 12” thick rock sub-base on prepared and compacted earth, with proper drain tiles and storm sewer drain­age. The expected life of the roadway is 60 years.

Pedestrian, bicycle, and ADA access were essential elements to this project. The city also took the time to consider the historical significance of the area by protecting the Joyce mansion throughout con­struction. A prodigious retaining wall was construct­ed rather than demolishing the mansion and sloping the ground from the roadway. The city also included re-paving of driveways and re-grading of yards, along with sodding of the finished product. Crews are now working on the finishing elements, including the sidewalks, striping, sodding, and cleanup. The final cost of the roadway, from Main Avenue to North 2nd Street is $10.5 million, of which $8 million was feder­al and state funds and $2.5 million from local funds. 19th Avenue North is expected to open to the public during the first week of May.

An efficient transportation system is essential for the safety and efficiency of modern industrialized societies. Since the construction of the first coast-to-coast highway, Clinton has always looked to enhance transportation arteries through town, and 19th Avenue North is just the latest example of this. City leaders now look to the next project, which will be the reconstruction and widening of Manufacturing Drive and parts of Bluff Boulevard. This project is sched­uled for design over the next two years and construc­tion is estimated for 2022.